Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay

It took a certain kind of person to leave family and the security of everything they knew and head without much money to an unknown distant shore full of danger. Maybe they were fearless adventurers or maybe a little crazy, but this was a gamble that both Muriel and her great-grandfather, Samuel Penfield Taylor, took during their lifetimes.

Be that he was the grandson and son of a ship’s Captain or that he wanted to get to the gold fields in a hurry or for some other reason, Samuel chose to take on the treacherous voyage around Cape Horn instead of making the trek overland.  Not having money to buy a ticket, Samuel agreed to work on a schooner in exchange for passage and the sum of $20.

Imagine the excitement of the young 21 year old as he and some of his friends set sail on August 21, 1849. Most likely, his ship stopped at Rio de Janeiro and several other exotic South American cities for supplies and fresh water along the way.  For a young man who had never been more than a hundred miles from New York, these foreign sights and sounds had to have been quite exciting; and possibly a bit frightening.

Something bad must have happened during the voyage as what should have been a three month trip, took nearly eight months.  Most likely, the ship was severely damaged and forced to put in for major repairs.    Samuel and his fellow voyagers were probably upset by the delay figuring the easy gold pickings were vanishing as they were stranded on some South American beach.  Samuel finally arrived in San Francisco on April 10, 1850. 

All his friends headed straight for the hills that seemed to promise a future paved in gold, but for some reason Samuel chose to remain in San Francisco for a while.  Possibly, he didn’t have the funds to purchase pick-axes, shovels, supplies, a mule and the other equipment necessary to pan for gold…or it may have been some other reason. All we know for sure, is that one day he was literally sitting on the dock of the bay when he noticed something floating in the water.  Whether it was just his lucky day or fate was giving him a jump start, what Samuel Penfield Taylor found floating in the water turned out to be almost as valuable as gold and would launch his extraordinary career in business.